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Charles Atherton Elementary Awarded Stars of Distinction

Charles Atherton Elementary designed by IDG+ Architects was honored as the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA) and Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) awarded the Stars of Distinction, Exhibit of School Architecture.

Atherton was given Stars of Distinction for excellence in three of the five areas of distinction.

Atherton Elementary was designed as a 21st Century school. The caveat of features requested include vivid bursts of color, natural light, shared activity spaces, moveable walls, flexible seating arrangements and sustainable design based on the criteria outlined by Houston Independent School District.

Flexible learning spaces can be found throughout the interior and exterior of the school. The building acts as a learning tool using a color-coded system to differentiate mechanical systems and structure. Numbers were also scored into the stairs to further enhance interactive learning. Sustainability is encouraged by use of recycle bins and student outdoor/roof planting gardens. The design incorporated extensive use of color and natural daylight throughout the facility.

Exterior elements of the school consist of stone, masonry and metal panels. Other design elements include sun shading devices, metal canopies and outdoor gardens. The team added clerestory windows to bring in natural light along the main artery including northern light that filters in at the second level. Flexible learning spaces were incorporated to inspire different levels of learning. Additional areas included a Cafetorium, Performing Arts wing and student outdoor/roof planting gardens.

An instrumental element to the design was to make the facility earth friendly. To obtain LEED certification by the U.S. Green Building Council, the facility includes a green roof with native plants for landscaping, utilizing local materials, installing high efficiency energy system & high-albedo roofing for ongoing accountability of building energy consumption and provide daylight and views into regularly occupied areas. LEED Silver is pending.

The key element of the design focusing on community, a truncated sphere, we call the history rotunda. It will display biographies of former students who attended the school in the past who played an important role as mentors, educators, and politicians. Moreover, the Entry Plaza will display names of people who contributed and have been a part of the success and continued success of the school such as Barbara Jordon, Mickey Leland, El Franco Lee, Harold Dutton, George Foreman, Dr. Ruth Simmons.

The goal was to make Atherton a 21st Century elementary school to enable students to foster creative thinking, flexible problem solving and collaborative learning. Research played a significant role in transforming the school into the learning tool it is today. We involved the community in the design process through interactive briefing and design charrettes. By engaging the community, students, and staff, we fostered a long-lasting relationship, and provided an effective learning environment.

The school blossomed into a 21st century school by creating an environment that facilitates student-centered learning and active learning. Flexible learning spaces can be found throughout the interior and exterior of the school. The building acts as a learning tool using a color-coded system to differentiate mechanical systems and structure, and numbers were also scored into the stairs to further interactive learning.

The project is on display on the Exhibit of School Architecture website. The Exhibit of School Architecture awards are given annually for new or renovated Texas schools and celebrates excellence in planning and design of the learning environment.

Houston Independent School District - 5.1 acre site, $12.6M construction cost, LEED Silver Certification

Click here to learn more about IDG+ Architect's K-12 design.

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